Virginia Ellison began posting her petition from Cherokee, N.C., to Atlanta and at churches and stores around the greater Walker County area. Ellison plans to present the list of names to government officials in hopes of influencing Vulcan Materials Co. to disregard any expansion plans.
“If people don’t say anything now, and they decide to go ahead and take that many acres, it’s going to do a lot of damage to the land,” Ellison said. “I’m just real concerned about it because my people are buried down there.
“I don’t have any rights whatsoever so far as the land, but I think it’s a historical site,” Ellison said. “It does have the caves and there are cemeteries there and I think these people ought to consider that.”
Vulcan is working on several environmental studies in coordination with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
“We’re continuing to do the studies as the seasons permit,” said Jimmy Fleming, Vulcan manger of human resources and governmental affairs. “You have to do those over a period of time for it to be a comprehensive study.”
Ellison is concerned about the old cemeteries and possible American Indian artifacts that would be lost if the quarry expands.
“We haven’t seen any (cemeteries) in the area that we’ve projected to move,” Fleming said. “We would certainly want to take a look at any information that anyone has to share with us like that.
“When you start talking about moving into an area with existing graves, it’s a pretty serious matter that we will certainly take a look into, just as we’re looking into the rest of the issues that are revolving around the Walker County quarry,” he said.
“We’re dedicated to looking at this and doing the studies before we proceed with any hard-and-fast type of plan,” he said.
Ellison’s cave on Pigeon Mountain, named for A.P. Ellison who lived on the property with the cave at the turn of the century, is internationally well-known as one of the deepest pit caves in the world. It is the largest cave of this type in the continental United States, according to local caver Larry “Smokey” Caldwell.
Vulcan already operates a 65-acre quarry located on Ga. 193, though the materials company has the right to mine 2,400 acres in that area. Of that land, 850 acres falls within the boundaries of the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wild-life Management Area.
Vulcan is based in Birmingham and operates 300 aggregates plants pro-viding materials in 21 states.
The most effective way to voice an opinion is to write a letter to Gov. Roy Barnes, Room 203, State Capitol, Atlanta, Ga., 30334. For more information and contacts, check the Friends of Pigeon Mountain website on the Internet at http://www.pigeonmountain.org